“Absence of state authority” Behind Persistent Inter-tribal Conflict in DR Congo: Cardinal

Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo of Kinshasa Archdiocese in DRC. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The persistent violent clashes between members of the Yaka and Teke communities in Kwamouth territory in Western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been occasioned by the “absence of state authority”, the Cardinal in the Central African nation has said.

In his Wednesday, October 12 homily during his pastoral visit to Kwamouth territory, Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo said that it was the responsibility of the government to ensure peace between the two communities.

“When the state quits, when it is absent, there will always be dark forces that will take over. This is what is happening in Kwamouth,” Cardinal Ambongo said during Holy Mass at St. Hippolytus Parish of Kenge Diocese with the intention to pray for peace between the two communities.

He added, “This group of people, who have intentions that we have yet to understand, have appropriated the power that naturally belongs to the state...simply because the state is not there, the state is absent in Kwamouth”

The Archbishop of Kinshasa urged President Felix Tshisekedi-led government officials to “live up to their responsibilities of ensuring peace and security to all citizens.”


Since July, more than 140 people have been killed in the intercommunal violence between the Yaka and Teke communities, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has reported about a conflict that was reportedly sparked by a dispute over customary land taxes.

Members of the Teke community consider themselves the original inhabitants of villages spread over 200 kilometers along the Congo River.

In his October 12 homily, the Local Ordinary of Kinshasa Archdiocese highlighted the importance of unity among the people of the two warring communities.

He said, “Dear brothers, there should be no stranger among us because we are all brothers, sons and daughters of the same Father from whom we have life, being and movement.” 

The member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (OFM Cap) further said, “The goods and riches of this world, the land that God has entrusted to us simply for administration, must not divide us or set us against each other.”

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“If we are not careful, if we do not turn to the Lord so that he can transform us, to see in the other not an enemy to be slaughtered but a brother, tomorrow we will all be swept away in the torrent of wickedness that (has) started the territory of Kwamouth,” he said. 

The Cardinal who has been at the helm of Kinshasa Archdiocese since November 2018 added, “Not only the territory of Bagata, but tomorrow the whole city of Kinshasa will be swept away by this group of uncontrollable armed bandits.”

Cardinal Ambongo urged the people of God in Kwamouth territory “not to give in to fear” but to remain firm in their faith for “God is with you always.” 

On September 6, the Local Ordinary of Kenge Diocese appealed for peace and reconciliation following violent clashes between the Yaka and Teke communities.

“The contribution of the Church is inevitably the invitation to peace, to reconciliation and the invitation to return to fraternity,” Bishop Jean-Pierre Kwambamba Masi told journalists.


Bishop Kwambamba added, “I urge both communities to pursue peace, reconciliation, and justice, values that have always marked the relationship between these two tribes.”

“It is our duty, our obligation to promote peace and reconciliation,” the 62-year-old Congolese Bishop who has been at the helm of Kenge Diocese since May 2018 further said, and emphasized, “Violence cannot solve our problems.”

“It is up to us to seek concrete ways of reconciling these two communities,” Bishop Kwambamba said. 

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.